If you want to capture true happiness and joy, don’t pose it.

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Flower girls and ring bearers play with rose petals at Penny and Richard's wedding at the Garden of the Gods Club and Resort.
  • Flower girls and ring bearers play with rose petals at Penny and Richard's wedding at the Garden of the Gods Club and Resort.
There is nothing more challenging in the world of wedding photography than capturing true joy and happiness. The reason this is so hard is that you can’t pose it.

In fact, the more posing you do, the more out-of-reach true expressions of joy and happiness are.

I admit there are some wedding photographers that are quite good and skilled at posing this kind of photograph. But they’re very few and far between. For me, it’s better to return to my roots as a photojournalist when I'm working on a wedding day; to watch, observe and be ready for moments as they happen.

I’m reminded of the power of photojournalism at weddings when I look back into my portfolio on occasion. The images that stick around are the ones that are undoubtedly honest, joyful and spontaneous moments of emotion. Capturing pictures like this demands more than being a witness. Photographing emotion takes anticipation, patience and a willingness to really allow events to unfold.

Perhaps the most challenging part of all of is your command of your camera equipment. The camera has to be an extension of your mind’s eye and after hundreds of thousands — maybe even millions? — mine is. There's no margin for error on a wedding day.

The idea, of course, is to blend in with your surroundings in such a way that your subjects forget you are there. If you’re fussing with your equipment that is all but impossible to do.

Here are a few images from my wedding portfolio that I really love, and they all have one thing in common: honest-to-goodness expressions of emotion. 


Jayna gets ready in her bridal suite at The Broadmoor. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Jayna gets ready in her bridal suite at The Broadmoor.
Myra and her father share a moment before her wedding ceremony at Grace Episcopal Church. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Myra and her father share a moment before her wedding ceremony at Grace Episcopal Church.
Anne and Ben in post-ceremony embrace at Keystone Ranch. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Anne and Ben in post-ceremony embrace at Keystone Ranch.
Joey and Keil during their first dance at The Broadmoor. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Joey and Keil during their first dance at The Broadmoor.

If you’re just learning how to use a camera, there's no substitute for practice. And if you’re beginning to photograph events like weddings, resist the urge to pose people. Instead, trust your instincts to capture pictures that are honest and truthful representations of the wedding day and how people really experienced an emotion-filled day. 

Sherri and Rick share an intimate moment on their wedding day at the Garden of the Gods Club and Resort. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Sherri and Rick share an intimate moment on their wedding day at the Garden of the Gods Club and Resort.

These images will be the ones you and your subjects cherish the most. 

Morgan and Justin during their wedding reception at The Broadmoor. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Morgan and Justin during their wedding reception at The Broadmoor.

Happy shooting!

Colorado Springs wedding photographer Sean Cayton loves remarkable photographs and the stories behind them. You can see his wedding work at caytonphotography.com, his personal work at seancayton.com and his editorial work in the Colorado Springs Independent. Submit your photo and the story behind the image - no more than two a week, please - to sean@caytonphotography.com for consideration in upcoming blogs.

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